Dear Socialist Club Members,
Firstly, a big thanks to all members who have already paid their annual subscriptions. At £10 waged, £3 unwaged I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a small price to pay to be part of the oldest independent socialist club in Britain (and probably the world.) Subs are a vital source of income to the club, so may I appeal to those of you who have yet to pay your subs for 2015 to do so as soon as you are able. You can do so in person at the club on any Friday evening or Saturday lunchtime, or by post to Trudy Chilton, Membership Secretary c/o 16 Wood Street, Bolton, BL1 1DY.
As you are aware Bolton Socialist Club occupies an important place in the history of Bolton’s working class movement and its struggles. The club has been in existence since 1886 and has occupied 16 Wood Street since 1905. In that time many key figures in the political and trade union movement have met, organised and spoken there, including engineering union founder Tom Mann, Eleanor Marx and Bernadette Devlin (McAliskey). It is currently the home of Bolton Trades Union Council, Bolton Against the Bedroom Tax, Save Our NHS, Save Our Public Services, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions group, several individual trade unions, green groups, the Gaza Women’s Educational Fund and other campaigning and cultural groups. The club provides ready and inexpensive access to these and any progressive groups engaged in struggle against inequality, injustice or inhumanity.
The remit of the club is threefold: to honour and preserve the rich history of working class struggle in Bolton, to provide a space for progressive groups to meet, organise and socialise, and to return progressive, socialist ideas back from the margins to the mainstream of political debate. Recent developments such as our series of high profile music events, our Award for Outstanding Contributions to Socialism (Maxine Peake last year, Alan Gibbons this year), prominent roles in a number of campaigns (the Peterloo Memorial March, support for Astley Bridge community against the EDL) and our regular Friday events have succeeded in raising the club’s profile and expanding the membership.
Our margins however, remain very small. Our rental income is constrained by the necessity to take as tenants a charitable organisation (Homestart currently) in order to avoid commercial rates being levied against the building, which would place an unsustainable burden on us. Income from rent is necessarily low, barely covering our running costs. The club is run entirely by volunteers, who give their time and energies freely. Without them the club could not exist.
This year we are determined to upgrade our facilities and carry out essential repairs. Our programme consists of replacing our kitchen, improving the bar serving area, redecorating the entrance hall, dining room and toilets and repairing part of the roof. In addition we hope to be able to improve our disabled access facilities, and the seating and lighting arrangements for events. The total cost of this work is likely to be in the region of £6000 to £7000.
We are applying to funding agencies for financial assistance but the political nature of the club dramatically reduces the scope for this. We are also appealing to trade unions, some of which have already given generously.
We are also appealing to our members to contribute to our fundraising efforts. If you are in a position to do so, there are two ways to contribute. One is by making a direct donation. If you would like to do this by post please address your donation to Liz Perry, Secretary, c/o 16 Wood Street, Bolton BL1 1DY.
In the approaching period of political uncertainty 16 Wood Street will only increase in importance. Its ability to provide inexpensive and ready access to groups involved in the fight against austerity, privatisation and the destruction of public services will be vital. We believe that members and other users who meet there to debate, organise and socialise, deserve to do so in surroundings that are both comfortable and pleasant. We hope that you our members will support these aims.
Yours sincerely and in solidarity,
Chair, Bolton Socialist Club.